Q&A with Sonja Macys, candidate for Yampa Valley Electric Association board of directors, District 7 | SteamboatToday.com

Q&A with Sonja Macys, candidate for Yampa Valley Electric Association board of directors, District 7

Sonja Macys
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Sonja Macys

Q. What qualifies you to serve on the YVEA board?

A. Here in the Yampa Valley, I have held positions of leadership and consistently demonstrated my commitment to fiscal responsibility, transparency, good governance and local control. I’ve worked for constituents, developed policy and balanced capital and operating budgets. I have nearly a decade of broad-based experience with energy issues in the YVEA service territory, and I understand the role of the YVEA board in setting policy and providing direction for the cooperative. Having served as a member of the Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado from 2011 to 2013 and having interacted with elected officials from the communities of our coal-based economy, I understand the tension and angst that exists due to energy industry changes. My experience with energy and public policy has prepared me to help YVEA negotiate the changing world of energy, while also preserving jobs and the tax revenues that local governments and schools receive from the energy industry.

Q. Why do you want to run for the YVEA board?

A. I believe that my deep interest in energy issues, familiarity with the regulatory landscape and commitment to supporting good jobs and economic prosperity make me the right choice for the YVEA board. I have been interested in the YVEA board since I started to attend their meetings nearly 10 years ago, but until now, I have not had the time to fully dedicate myself to this important position. I have previously worked with YVEA by (1) helping to develop a rebate program — Cen$ible Energy — that rewards YVEA members who opt for energy efficiency in their homes and (2) promoting YVEA’s first solar garden, located in Craig. Over the past decade, I have been a part of YVEA’s growth and change. I am uniquely positioned to help YVEA meet member needs and keep pace with consumer choice as YVEA navigates Colorado’s newly set goals for greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy.

Q. What are your goals for YVEA?

A. My goal is to build a path to fiscally-responsible, locally-controlled, 21st century energy.

  • Fiscally-responsible: We must balance operational spending with appropriate capital investment, particularly in our aging infrastructure, to guarantee reliability.  
  • Locally-controlled: Since 1940, YVEA has forged its own path to safe, reliable, low-cost energy. YVEA must continue drive its own future and be decisive about how the cooperative wants to grow and invest in new energy opportunities. This is particularly important given recent changes in greenhouse gas emission and renewable energy targets from the state legislature.    
  • 21st century energy: We assume that when we flip a switch the lights will come on, and they almost always do. We don’t have that same reliability, or even access, with broadband across our communities. I will support YVEA’s efforts to provide all members access to high quality broadband, which is becoming a part of how we define energy. 

Q. What do you see as YVEA’s goal in the community?

A. First, YVEA must deliver on its mission of providing safe, affordable, reliable power and efficient energy services to members. To do that, it must be the best employer it can be. YVEA employees are on the front lines of service delivery. YVEA is, and should remain, a good neighbor to its communities. “Operation Round-Up,” where members can round their bill up and donate to worthy nonprofits, is a great example of YVEA implementing the principle on which electric cooperatives were built: neighbor helping neighbor. Lastly, YVEA can be a positive part of community development. In Steamboat Springs, as downtown grew to become more pedestrian-friendly, YVEA sold its historic office building and made room for that local vision. Last month, the renovated building won a State Honor Award from Colorado Preservation, Inc. As a director, I will seek out these types of win-win opportunities across the entire YVEA service area.     

Election information

Member owners of Yampa Valley Electric Association are voting on three board members from Districts 4, 5 and 7. Ballots were mailed May 24, and they must be received by Thursday, June 20. All three districts feature contested races, and the Steamboat Pilot & Today will be publishing QandAs from each candidate in the June 11 and 12 issues of the newspaper.

Q. How do you view the future of energy in the Yampa Valley?

A. Energy use and sourcing desires nationally — and in the Yampa Valley — are changing quickly. Some communities are interested in distributed generation using renewable energy sources, which may be an opportunity for YVEA. And generating power in locations throughout the grid can provide increased energy security and help with job creation in the energy industry. Fun fact: the renewable energy industry supports more jobs than the ski industry in Colorado. Also, there is a growing trend towards electric vehicles. In my first term on Steamboat Springs City Council, we installed the city’s first EV-charging station with an eye toward connectivity between Steamboat and the Front Range. That vision is now becoming reality. As more companies look to fleet conversion, EVs may present a revenue-generating opportunity for YVEA. Since most EV charging occurs at homes, they draw electricity from the grid at night, removing pressure — and lowering YVEA costs — during peak-load times.     

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